This is what happened when racist America made me Enemy #1 – The Tempest

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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52 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon says:

    People seriously suck, and have bad reading comprehension to boot.Report

  2. Joe Sal says:

    She has a interesting work history. I am not entirely convinced this wasn’t troll bait by a certain affiliation of media folk.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Joe Sal says:

      Seriously? You’re going to be one of those “minority woman is just faking incredibly hateful and persistent harassment including death threats” people?

      It’s almost like, the more a person writes about things, and fits into demographics, that make them likely to receive harassment and hate, the less likely a whole segment of folks are to believe that they are faced with harassment and hate. I don’t get it.Report

    • Kim in reply to Joe Sal says:

      grow the fuck up. You want to talk about troll bait, I can give you some fucking troll-bait.
      Death threats are in the fucking advertising playbook, for god’s sake.

      But people don’t use it, businesses do. [Addendum: anyone running a personal business, who knows the people I know, may be using it. I can name some people if you like — part o’ all that Gamergate nonsense.]Report

      • Joe Sal in reply to Kim says:

        Jeebus, I was just pointing out that a gal that has been in the media business for awhile, posted on media something that could have more than one meaning, and eventually someone took it and ran with that other meaning. Shocking!

        I wasn’t going all ‘death threat denial’ here.Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to Joe Sal says:

          Oh, I see, you’re not going all “death threat denial”, you’re going all “she was asking for it”

          Or does “troll bait by a certain affiliation of media folk” mean something else?Report

          • Joe Sal in reply to dragonfrog says:

            Maybe the ‘people in the media business know what they are writing/doing’ is carrying excessive weight.Report

            • dragonfrog in reply to Joe Sal says:

              I personally might write something like “9/11 change the world for good” – even proofread over it before posting – and think ‘yeah, that’s clearly an indication that the results were significant and permanent, not that they’re desirable.

              I mean, I’m a secular-identifying white man, haven’t been exposed to the willful malice of sexist / racist / sectarian internet hate the way others have. Maybe others with different experiences would more readily go “oh yeah, alt-right quote-journalists-endquote will totally spin that to mean 9/11 was good.”

              But I never in a months of Sundays would have caught that before I posted it.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Yeah I get that, and probably the platform you would build on I would look at and say, yeah, df just has the one meaning.
                If a media person took that and built it on a platform of ‘controversial and edgy’ I might look at that and say what the hell.Report

          • j r in reply to dragonfrog says:

            I don’t understand your argument. The Tweet could have been trolling. And the responses to the Tweet would still be terrible. The two things are mutually exclusive.

            I err on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt, but that doesn’t mean that @joe-sal’s question is completely out of bounds. It is certainly a possibility that someone who does social media for a living might have been purposefully ambiguous in anticipation of negative responses.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

              Sure, but if you ONLY ask that question about certain people or certain groups, it can quickly become problematic. I don’t think we have enough of a “data set” on Joe to identify a pattern. But when there is a broader pattern of women, people of color, and women of color being doubted out of the gate, we need to consider that.

              In a weird way, DragonFrog’s response paralleled Joe’s initial question: there was enough of a “there” there to make Joe’s question legitimate… but also enough of a “there” there to make DF’s objection legitimate.Report

              • j r in reply to Kazzy says:


                I just don’t view the world that way. I see a world in which folks are constantly trying to feed me bullsh*t, from the right, left and center. Therefore, I question everything I read. Heck, I try to question the people who agree with me more, because that’s where the biggest risks of confirmation bias are. That’s the way to get the most accurate picture of the world. The question that everyone ought to ask themselves is how important accuracy is relative to other values. And that’s for each person to decide for him or herself.

                Now, I don’t go around interrogating everyone. Most of these questions I simply ask to myself, but I don’t see anything wrong with wondering something out loud in the comments section of a blog.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to j r says:


                Interesting perspective. Are you more inclined to think people are stupid or lying?Report

              • j r in reply to Kazzy says:

                I’m not sure that I’m inclined toward either. Also, not sure that the two things can be disentangled. People are rarely either evil geniuses or well-intention idiots.

                I disagree with Tod’s comment above, in that it is almost always about reading comprehension.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to j r says:

                Yeah, that would carry more weight if she had just sent out the email, someone saw it, and it went viral.

                In this case, it was a tweet sent out a really long time ago that was found after a ‘reporter’ that went through hundreds of her tweets looking for a smoking gun. All of her other tweets, as best I can tell from my own going though, appear to be pretty regular stuff. There isn’t anything there that screams “Oh my God, this woman wants death to infidels!”

                That alone should have given someone pause, especially a reporter.

                But even if it didn’t, it does not appear that the ‘reporter’ reached out to her, or to anyone who knew her, or anyone she worked for, to get a comment, clarification, or any kind of information at all.

                That should be a second red flag.

                And then, after it was published, it appears that the context finally was explained to the ‘reporter’ — who then simply doubled down on his initial claim. Last I checked, there is nothing on the the reporter’s site or post that notes, at the very least, that she has gone on record with an explanation for why the tweet was taken out of context.

                So sorry, @j-r . Normally I appreciate your cool thinking. But in this case, I think the suggestion that this is a simply case of poor reading comprehension is ridiculously incredulous.Report

              • j r in reply to Tod Kelly says:


                I was’t talking about the initial report. I was talking about the sh*tstorm that followed.

                I have no doubt, however, that the original report was an intentional hit piece. But even then, internet instigators know that most of their audience isn’t reading for comprehension, which is what makes spreading these kinds of stories a fruitful exercise.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to j r says:

                Got it. Then we are actually in agreement.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

                Given the context Tod provides, any serious consideration of the tweet being trolling feels silly. If it was trolling, it was *awful* trolling. Is it possible it was trolling? Of course. It is also possible her account was hacked or that her cat walked across the keyboard or that she was talking about a boat.

                But none of those are really the least bit reasonable when looked at in light of the readily available evidence.

                So what is gained by questions like Joe’s? It seems like a cheap shot aimed at discrediting someone without actually doing the work to prove why she should be discredited “Who me? I didn’t say she was trolling… I was just wondering aloud…”

                I mean, are we *sure* that Joe Sal isn’t the “reporter” who called out the tweet and is here to legitimize his piece? I mean, it’s possible, right?Report

              • j r in reply to Kazzy says:

                Do you really believe that the possibility of a cat walking across the keyboard resides in the same epistemilogical category as the possibility of someone Tweeting an ambiguous statement to increase the likelihood of a Twitter sh*tstorm?

                I find it hard to believe that if there were actual stakes on the line, you’d have the same difficulty in ranking their relative likelihoods.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

                No, but I believe if someone Tweets something that draws no response for several months and then it suddenly does but only through a gross and obvious intentional misreading of it, we should put the onus on the person who actually created the shirtstorm instead of on the person who simply failed to fully prevent them from doing so. Joe’s approach risks making the perfect the enemy of the good… “Well, she didn’t word it so that it couldn’t be misinterpreted, so we should probably question her intentions… months after the fact… and when everything until now demonstrated that her stated goals were consistent with the goals that she realized.”

                I was clearly engaging in some hyperbole there and that you focused in on the most hyperbolic aspect of my comment gives me a bit of pause, honestly.

                As I said earlier, Joe’s comment wasn’t totally out of bounds, but neither was Dragon Frog’s. Again, to say that Dragon Frog shouldn’t have responded as he did basically undermines Joe’s initial comment: either it is okay to draw reasonable inferences about someone’s intent and unstated meaning or it is not. Joe raised the potential for the Tweeter to have been trolling. Dragon Frog raised the possibility of Joe engaging in a biased and uncharitable reading. Why is one okay and the other not?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

                I suppose m iunt is that it Is POSSIBLE she was trolling but not particularly likely given the full context (as Tod supplied). More likely than a cat walking across the keyboard but both are in the realm of very unlikely. And we should generally avoid wasting time with such indulgences, especially when they play into existing biases.

                If the extent of the “evidence” in favor of her trolling is that she was a female activist of color who played for the “other team” — and other evidence suggested just the opposite — we SHOULD be calling out such crap.

                I don’t think Joe’s comment was beyond the pale but it was deserving of criticism which DF offered. It was unconsidered and built upon superficial analysis of the person and not the actual facts. Weren’t we recently decrying the lack of critical thinking?Report

              • j r in reply to Kazzy says:

                I’m not putting the onus on anyone to prove anything, because I’m not trying to evaluate competing claims. Whether she considered the possibility that some people would misread her Tweet exists as an empirical reality completely independent of any reaction that came after it. Time only works in one direction.

                As far as I’m concerned, even if she was being purposefully ambiguous, the people who attacked her for it were wrong. Heck, even if someone did Tweet something like “America deserved 9/11,” I’d still defend that person’s right to express herself free of harassment. So, teams don’t really play into my comment.

                And I didn’t say anything about what Dragonfrog should or shouldn’t have done. I just said that the claim doesn’t make sense.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

                I suppose I was responding to the issue of how “in bounds” Joe’s comment was. As I said, I don’t think it was out of bounds but I also don’t think it was particularly constructive given the facts.

                Below he says that his primary rationale for questioning her intent was her role as a member of the media. That doesn’t seem an absurd point from which to start. But if we ask ourselves before digesting ANY thing ANY one in the media produces, “Am I being trolled?” we’re going to waste a lot of time. We are right to be reasonably skeptical and certain media members have positioned them such that we ought to reflexively question their motives. But there are so many people with varied roles in and around the media pumping out content across multiple platforms seemingly at the speed of light that attempting to troll-moderate every single one will grind every conversation to a halt.

                So, basically, absent real evidence that she was trolling the, “Was this person trolling?” should be a question we keep chambered if necessary but only pull the trigger on when given real reason to think we are.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Kazzy says:

                My main pivot point was that she was/is a agent of media. The part that bugs me is many appear to want to start at a place of honesty without some degree of awareness that media is a clusterfish of agendas. This person is not working outside of those agendas, if anything she is an insider.Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to Kazzy says:

                Legit, I think that the likelihood of a cat walking across a keyboard being somehow involved in that tweet (not typing the whole thing out a random, but say selecting an autocorrect that made the tweet ever so slightly ambiguously interpretable, or maybe changing 7/11 to 9-11) is right up there with the likelihood that the lady meant to coyly write something deliberately interpretable as offering approval for mass murder.

                Which is to say, I wouldn’t for a moment think either happened, but neither is technically impossible, since things like this also happen:

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to j r says:


                My original comment on reading comprehension was aimed at follow on commenters & Twits. Most hit pieces are transparent and depend almost entirely on an audience of useful idiots who don’t read past the headline, yet eagerly fling poo.

                Well crafted and subtle hit pieces are a dying art.Report

              • KenB in reply to Kazzy says:

                Option 3, by far the most common, is that people are fooled by their cognitive biases into believing things without adequate empirical support. This isn’t lying (except to oneself) and plenty of smart people fall into this trap.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to j r says:

              The Tweet could have been trolling.

              And she might have been wearing a short skirt and a low-cut top while she typed it.Report

  3. Chip Daniels says:

    For once, a Facebook meme that is apt:

    Me, most of the time: “People are mostly good and mean well.”

    Me, after reading comments section of the newspaper: “The world can only be cleansed with fire.”Report

  4. trizzlor says:

    It’s worth noting that the Daily Caller article has still not been updated, and still contains the statement “Neither Alawa nor the DHS replied to TheDC’s requests for comment over Alawa’s social media activity.” Which doesn’t appear to be true but is certainly not true anymore. The comments contain a vigorous debate on whether the US should deport just Muslims or Muslims + Jews for good measure.Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    They’re very very loud, yes, but how many people like this are there, really? (N.b., “We’ll know when we see the popular vote count for Trump” is a humorous but ultimately unsatisfactory answer.)Report

  6. DensityDuck says:

    sic transit “you do not have the right to speak without social retribution or consequence”, I guess.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to DensityDuck says:

      I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

      She said “9/11 changed the world for good” meaning “forever” not “for the better”. An idiot hate-mongering journalist willfully misread it as the latter. She began receiving “social retribution and consequence” in the form of thousands of truly vile messages.

      Did I misunderstand you as suggesting that “social retribution or consequence” including thousands of harassing and threatening messages, are deserved and reasonable for writing something a twisted jerk could misinterpret if they put their mind to it?

      Or do you honestly believe that she meant “9/11 changed the world for the better”, chose to write it in a way that 99.9% of people would misunderstand as non-hateful, and the Daily Caller writer was among the perceptive 0.1% who sussed out her endorsement of mass murder?

      Or did you just miss that part of the article?Report